Being a Better Writer: Health

It occurs to me, as I sit down to write today’s post, that it is quite often that I start these posts with some phrase similar to “Today’s topic might seem strange …” or the like. Not that it’s an incorrect thought, after all. I do tend to say that a lot here. But I always say it with purpose. It’s a way of saying “Hang on, don’t go away just because the title isn’t about how to string words together in the proper sequence up front. Stick around for a bit. This will all make sense. I promise.”

Today’s post is another one of those days, and once again I am going to repeat myself: Stick around and humor me for a moment, please. As odd as it may seem, today’s topic is one that’s actually quite important, not just to your life in general, but to your writing specifically. Yes, you read that correctly. This topic is more important than you’d guess.

I want to talk about your health.

Why? Well, it’s one of those topics that seems to take a backseat whenever we’re talking about writing. Go to writing cons and writing classes and you’ll hear all about prosaic styles, show versus tell, hooks, prologues, and many, many other important bits of writing. But one thing you almost never hear about is the author taking good care of themselves.

And personally, I think that’s a bit of an oversight.

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No, Aven Colony is Not the Next Outpost 2


Yesterday morning, I received an unexpected burst of surprise. I was browsing r/games on Reddit when I came across a notification of a Science-Fiction colony-builder survival game titled Aven Colony … certainly enough to pique my interest. But the real shock came when I saw that the (then) top comment was “I’ve been waiting for something to fill the void that Outpost 2 left in my heart for so long.

Yeah, that snapped at my attention right away. I spent the rest of the day (I was busy doing other things) already planning to check to see if that commentator was correct. As you may recall, I’ve written about Outpost 2 before and why I’m waiting for a successor of some kind, and to my surprise that post continues to be one of the most regular reads on the site. Scarcely a day doesn’t pass that it doesn’t get one reader (other posts get many more readers, but in batches, this one is about as stable as my home page).

Now, I know I tend to talk more about writing than anything else one here (though again, I’m always open to branching out), but since gaming is one of my biggest hobbies (not surprising, as I did study at creating games and even founded a game studio that went nowhere), occasionally snippets of that might leak through.

Like right now, when I’m reporting back on Aven Colony. I had to know: Was it truly a successor to Outpost 2? Was it a game that filled a niche that has been empty for almost two decades? Was it what this obscure reddit commentator was hoping?

I did some digging. Watched a video. And now I have an answer.

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Done Fishing, Here’s the News


An astute reader might notice that that was “I return” and not “I have returned,” which is a key difference. And one that is quite meaningful in this particular case. “I return” confers that I am in the process of returning, a statement which is at the moment, quite apt. Flights are a little full (standby flier here), so I won’t officially depart Alaska until Monday, arriving back at my home sometime on Tuesday.

That’s actually a shorter jaunt then it took me to get here. I’ll tell you more about that in a bit. But first, as I was saying, I am in the process of returning. Which basically means crashing at my parent’s home for a few days while I wait for flights to open up. Which isn’t exactly torturous, barring the incessant itch at the back of my mind to get back to editing (which I need my stuff to do). As a double bonus my younger brother and his wife are also visiting along with their absolutely adorable little three-four month old son. Guy’s my first nephew, which means that I am suitably distracted at all times if he’s present. He thinks my beard is funny. Or maybe that’s all the funny faces I make.

Yeah, for a big bear of an Alaskan, I completely melt around little kids and babies. I spent an hour the other day just sitting and making the kid laugh.

Anyway, that said—mostly so that some of you readers don’t fear that I’m holed up in some moss-shrouded hotel room somewhere, which I’m not—I am basically stuck for a few days between the two points of travel (the fishing boat and my computer at home).

But, all that aside, the fishing is done! Over. Complete! We worked hard, pushed ourselves hard, and fished hard. And in the end, we managed to fill our holds with what we needed in six days. Despite some early sets that had us worried it was going to be a much longer trip. We got it all, we brought it in, got paid (the boat, not the workers, not yet), and got everything cleaned and put away.

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Gone Fishing

If you’re seeing this post … it’s because I’m not currently connected to civilization.

I’m out on a commercial fishing vessel, working the deck in pursuit of the mighty halibut. Only for about a week, though. So I should return soon. At which point, regular content will start back up.

For now, just kick back, relax, and enjoy what’s already up. Do an archive binge. Reread your favorite post. Check out the links page.

And I’ll see you in a week or so.

News of All Sorts

Hey guys! I’m here with a few updates. News both good and bad (hence the “All Sorts” in the title).

So, the bad news first. Just going to get it out of the way right away. It’s not that bad … but it will likely be disappointing for many of you.

I’m going to Alaska for a few weeks. I leave tomorrow. I had a last-minute call from an old employer offering a single commercial halibut fishing trip, and after some debate, I chose to go (I basically had a mental version of this battle playing out). If all works out, I should leave tomorrow.

Now, for me I still see this as bad news, especially in the context of this site. Basically, the trip should last about a week, maybe plus another half, as it’s only one trip … but that still comes with about a week’s worth of days around it for cleaning, set-up, etc, plus travel. All in all, I’m likely to lose two-and-a-half weeks, maybe a few days more.

Which means … all of my writing projects will be on hold for that period of time. No editing on Colony. No writing. Nothing. More delays there. It also means that Being a Better Writer posts might get a little sparse for the next few weeks, or go on hold. I’ll be trying to get some posts up on a scheduled buffer … but with this job, I can make no promises, sadly.

Granted, it’s not for long, but it’s still not great. If not for the money, I’d have turned it down. But just expect things to be a little light over the next few weeks.

Now, onto the good news!

First up, you may remember that last week I posted a new short story—The Ride—that I entered into 4A Games’ Metro Fan-creation Contest? Well, the contest results are up, and The Ride took third place!

This makes me quite happy. I really enjoyed the Metro series of games, and was happy to dip my toes into that universe for a short time. And now it turns out that a lot of other people have enjoyed reading that toe-dipping!

So, if you want to take a look at the winning entry itself, it’s here on my writing sample page. And honestly, if you’ve not looked at it yet and its victory in the contest isn’t enough to sway you, I’d encourage you to take a look anyway simply for the unique style and voice; once again I tried something new, and it turned out pretty well.

Okay, one other bit of good news. Some early responses for Shadow of an Empire‘s initial draft have been trickling in.

And they … are … positive.

Obviously it’s not perfect. There are a few small quibbles of detail to work out here and there, but so far it’s mostly little stuff like lead-line versus a picket line for a horse. But as far as the whole story itself goes, the feedback seems to be quite positive that I have nailed the western aesthetic.

This news comes with more good news, too. The better shape a book is in, the sooner I can get it out there. Right now (barring that fishing trip), Colony is the number-one priority and will be coming out next, but if Shadow feedback stays this clear, I could have it out by the end of the year.

Which would mean, yes, that I would have had three releases this year alone (Unusual EventsColony, and Shadow) totaling in at around 750,000 words.

So yes, that’s definitely the goal. And the news. Outside of me not being writing for the next two-and-a-half weeks, everything is actually looking pretty awesome.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have got to go pack. I’ll try to bring back some pictures for you guys, and see if I can’t stir up a little content while I’m gone.

Being a Better Writer: Character Relations

With a title like that, I’m sure some of you thought that this was going to be about relationships. Maybe even romance, or even something steamier.

Yeah, no. Sorry. And for that last one, don’t get your hopes up. That’s not what I write (and yet people keep requesting it …).

Which probably leaves a number of you wondering if maybe what I’m going to be talking about today is character interactions. And, sorry to say, like the rest of the theories, I’m going to have to nix this one as well.

No, today’s topic is something that was kicked off in my head by an interview I read over the weekend and the ensuing reddit commentary. A film producer (or maybe writer/director, to be honest I’m not sure and I don’t feel like looking it back up) was talking about why they didn’t like the current success of superhero films, and arguing that no one really liked them because the characters weren’t anything that anyone could relate to.

Now, I don’t agree with his assessment, but it got me thinking about characters that we write and create, and what our audience is going to relate to, and I realized it might make a good topic for a Being a Better Writer post. After all, if people want characters that they can relate to … well, it’s important that we understand both what they mean by that and how we can deliver it.

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Working Again, So Here’s Someone Else to Read

Yup, Monday shift again. Last time for a while. Of course, then I’ve got something completely different going on … and I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow (along with delivering the latest BaBW).

For now, I need to head off to work. But I’d rather not leave you without anything to read, and fortuitously enough, Larry Correia has a new fisking up, one which culminates in some good advice on writing. His fiskings are usually pretty entertaining to read anyway, and when they’re combined with a little bit of plain but simple advice, well …

Go give it a read. You can find it here.

And I’ll see you all tomorrow.

And the Unusual Events Giveaway Winner Is …

Peter Vanella!

In a blind drawing of eight entries (4 entrants, 2 entries apiece), Peter came up the winner to take home a copy of Unusual Events for kindle! The copy has already been sent, so Peter, if you’re reading this, check your e-mail, it should be there somewhere (it’ll come as a gift from Amazon). May you enjoy the adventures contained within!

To the rest of you who entered, thank you for participating! If you had your heart set on getting a copy, don’t feel too despondent. There’s still the future (or you can always buy a copy).

So, congratulations to our winner; may you enjoy your prize!

Metro Contest Entry – The Ride

A bit of a forward, first, by way of explanation.

This story was written for 4A Games’ 4ALives Metro 2033 contest. The goal was to create something (a story, piece of art, etc) set in the universe of Metro 2033 (which I had just recently beaten at the time the contest was announced). Interested in exploring the Metro universe, I spent some time thinking about it and then put together this experimental little story as an exercise in my talents (and I am aware that the series is based on a book series, but alas, I have not read them yet).


Oh, and as you might expect … just a small language warning. It’s the Metro, after all.


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